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Urging Somalia’s neighbours to ‘avoid interfering,’ Annan calls for return to talks

Urging Somalia’s neighbours to ‘avoid interfering,’ Annan calls for return to talks

Describing the situation in war-torn Somalia as “very serious,” United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today urged the impoverished country’s neighbours not to interfere in the conflict, as he also called on Somali parties to resume peace talks and avoid further bloodshed.

“The talks which are now suspended should resume very quickly. I also urge the two groups, the Transitional Government and the Islamic Court, to avoid further confrontation and military action,” Mr. Annan told reporters in Nairobi.

“I would also urge neighbouring countries to avoid interfering in Somalia… We do not need to see it further complicated by neighbouring countries rushing in with troops or guns to support one side or the other. It will only compound the problem and so I would urge them to stay out and urge the Somalis to continue their dialogue.”

Mr. Annan’s remarks are his latest call for dialogue between the Union of Islamic Courts, which controls the capital Mogadishu, and the Transitional Federal Parliament based in Baidoa. Somalia has long been riven by factional fighting and has not had a functioning national government since President Muhammad Siad Barre’s regime was toppled in 1991.

Last week, Mr. Annan’s Special Representative for Somalia, François Lonsény Fall, briefed the Security Council on the latest situation on the ground and told reporters later that the Council was “well aware” of interference from neighbouring states in Somali’s affairs.

“That’s why we are doing our best there to recall to all the Member States in the region to respect the maximum restraint, to not interfere directly in the Somalia issue because we know that Somalia can be the theatre of a proxy war between some countries in the region,” he said.